Luxury flats plan at lap dance club

Gino di Ponio inside Fantasy Palace. Picture: Toby Williams
Gino di Ponio inside Fantasy Palace. Picture: Toby Williams
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A LAP-dancing club once billed as “Edinburgh’s answer to Stringfellows” is set to be turned into luxury flats.

Fantasy Palace, in Shandwick Place, could be transformed into 11 upmarket apartments if new plans get the go-ahead – with an extra floor added to the top of the building to make room for three penthouse flats and a roof terrace.

The proposals have been lodged by club owner Tommy Diresta and would see the value of the site soar if planning permission is secured.

An ESPC property expert said average prices for the area came in at around £300,000 for a two-bed flat – but it is believed this could more than double for the penthouse apartments on the top floor, depending on how many bedrooms are on offer.

The scheme would see balconies installed on the second, third and fourth floors as well as the demolition of the building’s existing dance floor enclosure.

The plans are almost identical to ones lodged by Mr Diresta nine years ago, which were granted planning permission but never acted upon – and have now lapsed.

At the time, council officers backed the proposals, adding: “This is a good use for a currently underused building in poor condition in a prominent city centre location.”

Alan Weddell, treasurer of the West End Community Council, said he would be “quite glad to see the back of Fantasy Palace”.

He said: “We would probably support [the application] as a community council. It’s an underused building and its current use is not one that we would particularly favour.

“The only misgivings we had at the time of the original application was the style of the penthouses above, but apart from that we were supportive.”

Mr Weddell said it was likely the new application would be given the go-ahead, adding: “If something has already been granted consent and it complies with the local development plan, there’s no good reason not to.”

Licencing chiefs were told Fantasy Palace would be the Capital’s answer to Stringfellows when they granted permission for the club more than a decade ago. But in 2004, the venue caused a furore when it opened Scotland’s only pornographic cinema in one of its three bars during the Festival.

The 100-capacity cinema screened films carrying the infamous R-18 certificate, which are only sold in sex shops. Angry residents accused the owners of turning the West End into the Capital’s equivalent of Soho.

Three years ago, the club made headlines again when it became the first sex industry venue to be allowed to open until 3am.

Mr Diresta could not be reached for comment.